Letters to the Editor

09/03 – What you’re saying: Carol Rist, Pierce Freelon, Geoffrey Mock, Katherine Bellamy, and Jean Ritok

What my ancestors fought for

Some of my ancestors took up arms to fight for government which was fair to all the residents. My fourth and fifth great grandfathers were Regulators, back in the 18th century. They fought the colonial government, not to change the form of their government, but simply to make the colony’s political process more equal. They wanted better economic conditions for everyone, instead of a system that benefited colonial officials.

If my ancestors came back today they would be asking why our legislature spent $4.8 million of taxpayers’ money defending the illegal plan rather than drafting maps for North Carolina following the practices used in those states whose districts have been declared legal.

The legislature’s revised maps were released to the public only two weeks before the deadline for submitting them to the court. The litigants who are challenging the new maps will have to scramble to determine whether or not the redrafted maps are legal. If the court decides that the new maps are no better than the old maps, then I hope the court will select non-partisan experts to draft a redistricting plan which is legal. The result would be the result that my Regulator ancestors fought for – the state’s political process will be more equal.

Carol Rist


We are the future

From the day we announced our candidacy for mayor we were told that Durham’s major political action committees would not support us. Before we were offered a chance to present a platform, submit a questionnaire or do an interview, local power brokers and media outlets suggested that other candidates were too deeply entrenched in the existing political machinery to be challenged. The old guard had already made their choice.

Lucky for us, we live in a city with a rich history of upsets. Durham went from Jim Crow to Black Wall Street, turned tobacco to tech, and has led a national movement to topple longstanding Confederate monuments. Our historic Hayti community gets its name from the Haitian Revolution, where oppressed people led an insurrection against the status quo. A revolution is coming to the most creative, progressive, diverse, queer and cool city in the South, and we are not the underdogs. We are the future.

Political organizations will not decide the outcome of this race. The People will. We are ready to fight for intersectional equity and for a redistribution of economic and political power for the benefit of all Durhamites. Join us! Let’s build Durham’s future together.

Pierce Freelon


Editor’s note: All candidates in the fall elections are invited to submit two letters and one guest column between now and Oct. 15 at letters@heraldsun.com. Please ask for a confirmation reply when sending.

An attempt to intimidate

In the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, it’s unconscionable that North Carolina legislators would consider legislation that would have a chilling effect on peaceful protest. But with HB 330, providing immunity for drivers who injure a person blocking traffic in a protest, our legislators may pass a bill that takes aim at people’s constitutional right to the peaceful expression of their political views.

HB 330 supporters have struggled to explain how this bill is necessary or how it even fundamentally changes current law. In fact, it’s impossible to see this legislation as anything other than a straight-forward attempt to intimidate people and silence popular voices of public opposition to the legislature, while also sending a signal to extremists who, as in Charlottesville, need little encouragement to take direct action against people expressing opposing views.

Other versions of the bill, written with language similar to HB 330, are appearing in state legislatures across the nation. If the bill is successful in North Carolina, it is more likely to also become law elsewhere.

While state Republican leaders currently say they have no plans to move the bill forward, until the bill is officially defeated, it remains alive and our political rights remain at risk. We need the members of the Rules and Operations Committee, including committee chair Sen. Bill Rabon, to unequivocally oppose it. We cannot allow this proposal to become law.

Geoffrey Mock


Salvation Army needs help

The Salvation Army of Durham serves thousands of families in Durham, Orange and Person counties throughout the year. We offer many emergency services and continuing services including food assistance, utility and rent assistance, clothing and furniture assistance, resume building, occupational guidance, and even college assistance.

Christmas is perhaps the most exciting time of year for many families. It is a holiday that brings people together; whether they are sharing a Christmas dinner or opening presents under the tree, it is a time of joy and celebration. Unfortunately, not all families have this experience. For some, Christmas becomes a time of stress and anxiety because of financial limitations. While we realize that presents are not the most important part of the holiday, The Salvation Army of Durham wants to alleviate the stress for families so they can experience the joy and community that Christmas brings.

Our Christmas Angel Tree program allows qualifying families to register for Christmas assistance for their children (ages 0-12). Each year, hundreds of families come through our doors and sign up for our program. Qualifying families give us a “wish list” from their children so that we can begin the sponsorship process. Their children, our “angels,” are then sponsored by generous community members and businesses around our service area who find great joy in buying gifts for these families in need.

In December, thousands of gifts are set up in our makeshift “Toy Shop” for registered families to come receive their donations. Each year we attempt to locate a space to designate as our Toy Shop. While we do not have a permanent location, we have been blessed in previous years with warehouse space that typically measures about 11,000 sq/ft. We are calling out to donors, sponsors, friends, and community members to help us find our Toy Shop location this year. Would you consider partnering with us in this unique opportunity?

Dates needed: Dec. 1-18

Size needed: 11,000 sq/ft.

Contact: Tammie.Sellman@uss.salvationarmy.org

Katherine Bellamy

The Salvation Army of Durham, Orange, and Person Counties

1 in 4 teens

Congratulations to Durham Public Schools for presenting the #Day1 anti-bullying pledge to all students as school resumed this year (“DPS wants students to take a stand against bullying. Here’s why.” THS, Aug. 26).

This pro-active step educates and motivates students, teachers, staff and parents to prevent and counter the growing problem of bullying.

We share their concerns. Studies show that one out of four teens experiences bullying, violence and other forms of oppression every day. Challenge Day for North Carolina is a local initiative to introduce an award-winning, experiential program that not only reduces teasing and bullying, but also teaches peaceful conflict resolution and helps shift a school’s culture to a more inclusive one.

Since this initiative was started in 2015, Challenge Day has been adopted in three schools in the Triangle. And there will be a Challenge Day at Hillside HS in Durham on Oct. 11.

This program builds social and emotional skills in students by (a) conducting a very engaging one-day workshop for 100 students, plus 25 teachers and other adults; then (b) spreading its benefits to the entire school via a follow-up program.

One student said: “People started opening their eyes and seeing they’re not alone in something. They started seeing through somebody else’s eyes.” An adult said,”The transformation for some students ... was amazing.”

The Challenge Day program is run by a nonprofit in Concord, California. Last year they put on 705 Challenge Days in 390 schools in the U.S. and four other nations.

The NC initiative is run by the Elna B. Spaulding Center for Conflict Resolution in Durham, a nonprofit that provides training and alternative dispute resolution models to resolve all types of issues.

Interested persons may contact us at challengedaync@gmail.com.

Jean Ritok,

Initiative leader

What you’re saying

Please send up to 300 words to letters@heraldsun.com. All submissions, online comments and posts to editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page may be edited for space and clarity. Thank you.